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Pottery Pals by Beth Cohen

Beth Cohen


n the fall of 2007, I was attending the Women’s Group classes registration when I started chatting with a fellow member. The two of us hit it off immediately and, inspired by the vast selection of cultural class offerings, decided to get to know each other better over clay rather than the typical cup of coffee. We signed up that day for a trio of Keiko Fujishita’s pottery classes at her studio near Jiyugaoka. During each of the four-hour sessions, we were handed a ball of clay from which to create whatever we desired, from platters to bowls to vases. Experience was not a requirement, just an artistic passion, and as a former graphic designer with no job at the time I found the classes to be just the creative outlet I needed. I took to the sessions immediately and enjoyed immensely the company of my fellow Women’s Group members

as we worked on our various pieces to the relaxing lull of jazz music in the background. Keiko and her assistant offered plenty of help and fun conversation along the way. Keiko, a vivacious former Japanese teacher, taught us Japanese during the classes and in turn we educated her on American slang, turning each visit into even more of a cultural exchange. Once we finished molding our objects, Keiko finished, fired and glazed them. Aspiring artists who become members of her Kyusai Pottery Studio and Gallery (which I did) can do those stages for themselves. I now go to the studio once or twice a month and feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I have completed a work. Most of the time, I’m pretty happy with the results, and on occasion I’m pleasantly surprised by what comes out of the kiln. Once, I started to make a container for my kitchen utensils and it


ended up being a vase. The possibilities of what to make are endless. My apartment is filled with pottery, with about a dozen pieces proudly on display. I’ve started to make gifts for people back home in the United States, including welcome signs and appetizer trays. Every design has a distinctive Japanese flair to it due to Keiko’s influence. Like many of the Women’s Group classes, students can discover new aspects of Japanese culture through Keiko’s pottery classes. But for me, they remain, most importantly, a way to meet new people through an unusual, shared experience. ®

Registration for the Women’s Group fall classes is on Thursday, September 17. Check for details on available classes on the Women’s Group website from late August at









WG Extended Board Meeting

New Moms and Babies Get-Together

Get Acquainted Coffee

New Moms and Babies Get-Together

Birth Preparation for Couples

Early Pregnancy and Birth Planning

Get Acquainted Coffee

For more details, check out the events on pages 4 and 5, the Women’s Group page at or the Women’s Group website at

24 June 2009 iNTOUCH

iNTOUCH June 2009  

Tokyo American Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH

iNTOUCH June 2009  

Tokyo American Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH